Military Life

Why the Army's going smoke-free in 2022

Smoking has been part of service culture since the 1950s, but will soon be forbidden on site.

The British Army is set to go tobacco-free on all sites in the UK by the end of 2022.

What may come as a culture shock to some is part of a commitment from UK defence to prioritise the health of personnel.

The move builds towards a smoke-free working environment in the next two years and applies to all sites, with the exception of Single Living Accommodation.

Despite being part of Army culture since the 1950s, smoking is one of the leading causes of premature death, with figures showing 200 people die each day in England as a result of the habit.

"The Army has known for a very long time that this is an unhealthy aspect of life," said Brigadier Mike Butterwick, Brigadier General Staff, Army HQ Andover.

"Twenty-four percent of the Army smokes that’s higher than the national average.

The prevalence of smokers within the Army is higher than the national average, says to Brigadier Mike Butterwick (Picture: Alamy).

"We’ve got to do something about that because, as a professional Army which is all about healthy performance, smoking isn’t conversant with that particular way of living a life."

Army headquarters in Andover will be the first to kickstart the initiative next week.

There will be a smoking area close to where personnel live, while designated areas will be set out exclusively for vaping.

Brig Butterwick said there’s a "right to a private life" in the service.

"Nobody’s telling them to stop. What we are saying is, 'We’re not going to smoke in our workplaces'," he added.

Personnel seeking advice on how to break the habit were encouraged to contact chain of command or healthcare professionals available.